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Trash enforcement focus should bring tidy results

Updated: Mar 22, 2022


By Editorial Board

Stowe commissioners should follow through on their discussions for hiring a part-time code official overseeing trash violations.

While tackling issues like violent crime, blighting and disinvestment requires deep spending and careful strategy, coming down hard on littering offenses could land quick returns from a manageable cost.

Litter lines countless streets, alleys and sidewalks in Stowe, deterring foot traffic from the business districts and creating a general impression of a town written off even by those who live there.

Two alleys in West Park, for example, are on course for complete repaving jobs using generous grant monies. But what good is filling potholes if those same alleys remain layered in broken glass and twisted cans poised to puncture tires? And that’s to say nothing of the aesthetic drawbacks.

Residents have confronted their elected representatives over these kinds of issues during recent public meetings, and the option put forward by Commissioner Kelly Cropper-Hall last week holds more promise than any other so far advanced.

Littering is a very avoidable problem that the township has the means to effectively reduce.

For proof, look at Singapore, a vast city of six million, and notoriously clean. It doesn’t stay spotless by coincidence, though; first-time offenders can find themselves paying a $1,000 fine for so much as dropping a candy wrapper in the street.

Chewing gum, meanwhile, is entirely prohibited on the assumption it would inevitably end up stuck to the wrong places if legalized.

Stowe doesn’t need to enact such Draconian measures to address the problem, but it can definitely ratchet up its enforcement efforts and expect results.

Stowe has detailed ordinances on the books outlining trash policies and even allowing for fines up to $600 for violations. Assuming the courts cooperate, the part-time position could quickly pay for itself.

Finally, for a board that can barely call a meeting to order without descending into childish bickering, here’s a practical proposal everyone should be able to get on board with.

Leaders of neighboring communities that deal with similar problems should also consider this way forward.

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